Compressed discs and pinched nerves in the neck are two of the most common neck-related issues that people seek treatment for. Both can cause pain, numbness and weakness that disrupt the life of a person experiencing them. Knowing how these two issues occur is very helpful in being able to avoid falling victim to them.
How Does Compressed Disc in the Neck Happen?
There are several factors that can lead to a compressed disc. One of the most common causes is wear and tear. As we get older, the shock absorption and mobility that our spinal discs afford start to wear on them.
On average, around 30 years of age is when the first signs of this wear and tear are noticed, then as the years pass, more issues can arise. Peain is usually the first sign, followed by increased discomfort, declining mobility and other symptoms, such as numbness and weakness, if a herniated disc starts to press on surrounding nerves.
For those already experiencing degeneration, an injury can compound the problems caused by a compressed disc. When the disc is degenerated, the wall of the disc is starting to wear down. A good example is how a tires’ treads start to wear down as the car is driven over time.
Are Spinal Discs Causing You Neck Pain?
The same thing happens to the wall of spinal discs. Then, an injury can easily rupture this already vulnerable disc. For example, the disc wall is worn down and then you take a fall and twist in an odd way. This can cause the inner components of the disc to protrude through and cause symptoms. If the disc is severely weakened, sometimes all it takes is a hard sneeze to rupture a disc.
An injury can cause this regardless of the state of the discs. A perfectly healthy disc can be ruptured by trauma, such as a car accident or incorrectly lifting a heavy object. Anything that puts too much pressure on the disc can cause it to compress and rupture.
A pinched nerve in the neck results from excess pressure on a nerve root. Degenerative joint disease can result in pinched nerves. This disease can cause bone spurs, which are basically little bony balls that can put pressure on structures close to them, such as nerves. This is most often seen in people who are elderly or middle-aged, but they can affect younger people too. Another potential characteristic of this disease that can pinch the nerves is joint space narrowing. A narrowed joint space forces an alteration in normal joint movement which can cause the affected spinal joints to impinge on nerves.
Tumors can also pinch cervical spinal nerves. These tumors can be malignant or benign. Much like a bone spur, they take up space and can pinch nearby nerves. This is not a very common cause of pinched nerves.